The West End's new "musical comedy thriller" Money to Burn closed this past weekend at Leicester Square's The Venue. The show's final performance was the matinee on Saturday (11 October 2003), just two days - and myriad damning reviews - after its opening last Thursday night (9 October 2003, previews from 29 September).

Described by Whatsonstage.com's reviewer Mark Shenton as "far worse than ... I could possibly have imagined", the musical, written and directed by Daniel Abineri, centres around Lord Oliver Justin (OJ to his friends), a bad-boy aristocrat who's down on his luck. After losing a fortune on the roulette tables and incurring massive debts, his wealthy wife refuses to fund him further. So OJ decides to take matters into his own hands and murder her.

In a statement issued this morning, producers at MTB Productions Ltd stated the closure was “due to the devastating reviews in the national papers and the immediate impact that these reviews had on our future box office. A decision was made to close the show following the 6.30pm performance on Saturday 11October, and the cast and crew were told at a company meeting immediately after the end of the matinee performance. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who had helped to make this production happen.”.

Money to Burn's swift demise has challenged that of Abineri's first musical in this country. Bad Boy Johnny and the Prophets of Doom, which featured Russell Crowe in the title role and won various awards in its native Australia, was reportedly banned after only ten performances when it transferred to the UK.

Musical veteran Peter Blake, playig OJ, led the 12-strong Money to Burn cast. The show was designed by David Shields, with lighting by Nick Richings and choreography by Michele Thorne. It was produced by MTB Productions with Paul Savident and Parry Masterson for The Venue.

No further productions have yet been announced for The Venue, a former dance hall and rehearsal space that was reclaimed in January 2002 as a 320-seat performance space to host the world premiere of Boy George's Taboo. The first new West End venue to be licensed for 70 years, The Venue is located in the crypt of Notre Dame Church off Leicester Square.

- by Terri Paddock